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Droid Meets HDMI: How (and Why) to Connect Your Android Phone to Your TV

Your Android display probably isn’t that big. Even if you’re using a phablet-sized device, the display will be 7 inches at most.

Meanwhile, the TV on the wall is 40 inches, or bigger.

There may be many reasons for you to want a larger screen for your Android device, but is it practical? How can you connect your Android device to your TV? Fortunately, you have several options, all of which utilize your TV’s HDMI port.

Why Connect Your Android Phone to Your TV?

One reason might be for gaming. On the big screen, mobile gaming suddenly becomes a public pastime rather than a private one, and you might even stop using your game console.

The possibilities are here are considerable. While I’ve only tested this with a handful of titles, you might find it such a good experience that you won’t want to play Android games without it. Connect a Bluetooth controller to your device for the best results.

Meanwhile, your photo and video collection might also prove perfect material for sharing, while presentation software can take advantage of an HDMI link to your display. You might even want to use an HDMI connection to your TV for productivity purposes.

So, how do you connect your Android device to your HDMI TV?

1. Google Chromecast

Image credit: Robert Fruehauf via Shutterstock.com

Probably the most obvious method is via the popular Google Chromecast, which has been available since 2013. This is essentially a tool for streaming media — or your phone’s display — direct to a TV. The Chromecast has a HDMI connector and a USB power cable (most TVs have a USB port that provides enough energy to power the device), and once paired with your Android device, it is ready to use.

All you need to do is use the Cast command in Android’s pull-down Quick Settings menu, or find the icon in your favorite apps. For instance, the mobile Chrome app has a Cast option.

For full details on setting up Chromecast and streaming the content to your TV — or mirroring your games — see our comprehensive Chromecast setup guide.

2. Miracast

An alternative to Chromecast, Miracast — which we looked at in detail early in 2016 — comes built into many modern TVs. Even if your TV doesn’t have Miracast compatibility, you might find that your Blu-ray player or media center does. Failing that, you can connect an inexpensive Miracast dongle to your TV’s HDMI port.

To connect to a Miracast device with a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or newer, open Settings > Device connection > Screen mirroring and follow the steps there. For older devices, use Settings > Display > Cast Screen, open the menu, and check Enable wireless display.

3. USB to HDMI

In recent years, support has improved for USB to HDMI. For this, you will need a converter to convert signals from the microUSB connector (or, more recently, USB type-C connector) to the HDMI cable and display the output on your chosen TV or monitor.

Image credit: JIPEN via Shutterstock.com

Compatibility for the converters differs across devices. Samsung phones and tablets work with them, as do some HTC and Motorola devices, but others may not. Don’t simply go out and buy a generic adapter – instead, search Google: “USB HDMI adaptor for [ANDROID DEVICE]” and see what comes up. Often the first result will take you to an Amazon page for the piece of equipment you need.

Two types are available.

  • MHL: standing for Mobile High-Definition Link, this offers HD video and eight channel surround sound. Founded in 2010 and currently offering the superMHL specification, devices are available for microUSB and USB Type-C.
  • Slimport: has low power requirements, meaning that you can expect to connect your phone to your TV without draining the battery. Unless you’re playing a game with heavy graphic requirements, of course! Fortunately, many Slimport cables feature a micro USB port for connecting your charger cable.

Note that other AV adaptor types are available; if you don’t have an HDMI TV, you might opt for a VGA-compatible Slimport cable instead.

These devices can vary in size, but they generally will have a cable with the USB connector at one end and a square box with the HDMI connector at the other.

Some Older Phones Have Another Option

A few years ago, several Android phones and tablets shipped with a HDMI-out port. These devices included the Sony Xperia S, LG Optimus 2x, LG Optimus 3D P920, Acer Iconia A1, Tesco Hudl, Archos 80 Titanium, Nokia 2520, and Motorola RAZR HD XT925. (An almost-comprehensive list of devices can be found at GSMArena.)

Should you have one of these older devices, you’ll need a special HDMI cable with a standard Type-A connector at one end and a suitable connector at the other. This might be the Type D (micro-HDMI), the Type-C (mini HDMI), or the standard Type-A.

The problem with these phones, however, is the age. You won’t be able to enjoy the latest versions of Android with older hardware, and by extension, the safety and stability of security updates.

It’s HDMI, Time to Try!

With the right hardware, you can enjoy the high quality output of your Android phone or tablet on your HDTV. Whether gaming, looking at photos or enjoying music, the possibilities are intriguing.

You might, for instance, be running Plex or XBMC for Android on your phone or tablet. Your once-personal portable media center (which might have had some LAN broadcast possibilities) is now a full-fledged media centre, capable of displaying movies and TV shows on your family TV for everyone to enjoy.

With the price of an HDMI converter or suitable cable for your HDMI-equipped phone so low, it seems a huge waste to ignore this feature. Although you might prefer not to play on a 40 inch display.

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